Herald Journal Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, April 8, 2002

Village Hall overflows with residents sharing vision of future for Waverly

By Lynda Jensen

Young and old filled the Village Hall basement to its capacity last Monday to share thoughts and ideas about Waverly's future.

Those in attendance included numerous business owners, longtime and newer residents, political figures, Waverly royalty and candidates for the coming Waverly Daze, members of the fire department and city public works, some township residents living close to Waverly, and senior citizens, among many others.

The attendance numbered between 165 and 180, said Healthy Communities Partnership co-chair Jim Vrchota.

"It was a good representation of all different ages," he said.

Following a rib dinner and presentation by the Healthy Communities Partnership, the room filled with the buzz of ideas as the room broke into small groups to identify Waverly's strengths and weaknesses.

Wright County is the second fastest growing county in the state, behind Sherburne, coordinator Jay Blake said, showing demographic statistics on the overhead projector.

Talking and planning for change is better than waiting for it to sweep the community away or plan for it after the fact, Blake said.

The small groups engaged in active discussion that lasted nearly an hour, as each group compiled common thoughts on large tablets (see photos).

The final results were affixed on the wall for the rest of the room to see.

From there, the top five strengths and top five weaknesses were identified, with each person in the room being allowed to cast one vote each for ideas on the wall.

The results included the following.

Top strengths of Waverly:

· parks, lakes, and playgrounds.

· Waverly is quiet and peaceful.

· growth opportunities.

· locally owned bank and businesses.

· Waverly is small in size.

He thought it was remarkable that Waverly's small size was counted as a strength, Vrchota said.

Among top weaknesses included:

· the lack of small businesses.

· the initial town impression from Highway 12.

· run-down homes and buildings in need of rehabilitation.

· the need to renovate the Village Hall.

Many other ideas circulated through the room, especially since it was full of so many people with so many thoughts.

Other weaknesses mentioned were no hiking or biking trails, the lack of parking for commercial truckers who are residents, and no city water on the north side of the lake, among others (see photos).

This group exercise is called a swathe analysis, and is fairly effective in gauging public opinion, Vrchota said.

The exercise was a complete success, with many people in the community being given the opportunity to inject their own ideas about how to handle the swell of development sweeping through Waverly, Vrchota said.

In fact, Blake indicated that he was very impressed with the turnout.

The numbers at Waverly were twice that of a recent joint meeting conducted for Dassel and Cokato, to serve the same purpose.

The ideas generated at the meeting will be summarized and reported to the HCP head office in Little Falls Tuesday, Vrchota said.

From there, the HCP committee group, composed of Waverly residents, will come up with a plan of action to answer the question of what to do about the results, Vrchota said.

Part of this plan includes connecting the Waverly community with key resources, such as rural development, economic development, housing, technology, and other resources.

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